Many thanks to the good people at Gainline.ie – which is a wonderful mix of financial spread betting and Rugby, for a world exclusive opportunity for the observations of Kevin McLaughlin on the Rugby World Cup. Here’s the press release on the launch of the blog. We asked 5 questions:
1. The wonderful win against Australia was widely ascribed to that “Irish Passion” thing. I disagree– it was clinical and professional. Indeed is the reduction in“passion” a key element in Ireland’s recent success?
I agree that it is all too easy to easy for foreign pundits to ascribe passion as the main factor in big Irish wins. However, this Irish side is an incredibly professional outfit that goes out to win every game and to put a good performance down to the “passion” is doing our team a major disservice. I would say that us Irish are very passionate people and this passion does give us the edge over teams so to try actively try and reduce it would be crazy. It is about controlling the emotions in big games and directing the energy in the right places. I think this Irish team has a great balance of passion and professionalism at the moment.
2. The recovery times allowed lower tier nations do seem terribly unfair. What can be done to make things more competitive?
I think the way to sort this problem is give every team 2 short turnarounds and 2 long turnarounds in the group stages. This will not be popular with the TV stations who want all the big teams playing at the weekends but is only fair on all the teams involved. The lower tier teams deserve the same opportunity as every other team in the competition.
3. Do you believe that there has been a real closing of the gap between the hemispheres ?
Yes I think that the advent of professionalism has narrowed the gap and especially in one off games like you get in the world cup, where there is a cup final feel to it and the better teams do struggle to hammer home their advantage in this environment. However there is still a gap in terms of skill levels.
4. So far which individual player, from any team, has enhanced his reputation the most in the RWC?
Probably the “Tullow Tank” (Sean O’Brien). He has been immense for Ireland so far. He got player of Ireland’s pool and many are suggesting he was player of pool stages full stop. We could well see him pick up player of the tournament which would be just a phenomenal achievement considering the talent that is out there.
5. Which northern hemisphere nation can go the whole way do you think?
I think France are dark horses. They have the players to beat anyone and once they click into gear they are next to unstoppable. Everyone is writing them off due to their poor group form but I still think they will have a major part to play in this World Cup.